Sunday, 30 August 2015

Hong Kong Lucky Restaurant (Dim Sum & Hong Kong style food)

When we talk about dim sum in Chiang Mai, there are several usual suspects - Yang Zi Jiang;  Fujian (at Dhara Dhevi); the China Kitchen at Shangri-La Hotel (which now also has great Sichuan food); and China Palace (at Holiday Inn) - which has been my family's go-to dim sum place due to the very reasonable costs and quality (about 30-40 baht / dish).

Now, we have a newcomer, Hong Kong Lucky Restaurant, owned by the same owners as Hong Kong Lucky Cafe at Nimmanhaemin Road.

Could this be the best dim sum restaurant in Chiang Mai?

Certainly the variety is there. Hong Kong Lucky Restaurant serves 35 dim sum dishes, including favourites like Hakao (steamed prawn dumplings), Siew mai, Deep Fried Taro Dumpling, Steamed Chicken Feet in Black Bean Sauce (my personal favourite!), and some other dishes that I haven't really seen in other dim sum places in Chiang Mai eg. Baked Bun with BBQ Pork.

I must say pretty much everything I tried was great.

Of particular note:

The Pan Fried Turnip Cake was lovely and full of flavour. There is a jar of homemade chilli oil on the table. On the first couple of visits, I piled on the chilli oil (I loved the chilli oil!), and it tasted great. On the third visit (in 3 weeks), I realised that the turnip cake tasted pretty amazing just by itself. Actually, on this visit, I did not use much of the sauces provided on the table at all.

Deep Fried Dumpling with Shrimp - This was excellent. The dumpling skin was light and crispy on the outside, and lovely and soft on the inside. Very nice texture and taste.

"Lava Custard Bun" - sorry, I don't know the name of this bun, but it's absolutely delicious. Served steaming hot (be careful, the lava is hot!!), the bun is filled with creamy eggy custard that oozes out of the bun like lava when "opened". Mmmm,... heavenly! Perfect as an end to the meal.

As mentioned above, everything was very nicely done. As we order the dishes a-la-carte, everything comes out steaming hot.

The atmosphere feels very much like a Hong Kong restaurant. There are even a few karaoke rooms upstairs. The teapots even have the plastic spouts attached to them to prevent tea from dripping.. which I think is a mark of a true Cantonese restaurant!

As for the price, the price of the dishes range from 60-130 baht, most of the dishes were around 80 baht. On my visits, we paid between  200-300 baht/person, depending on how much was ordered.

The Kitchen
Definitely a place we can keep going back to time and time again, especially since there is a whole heap of other non-dim sum dishes. Incidentally, I have been to dinner at Hong Kong Lucky Restaurant as well, and the food is also great. I especially liked the prawn wonton soup (you can choose to have it with or without noodles).

Hong Kong Lucky Restaurant
Facebook page:
5/6 Soi 7, Ratchadamnoen Road
Sriphum, Muang, Chiang Mai
Tel: 099 535 8883
Parking is a little difficult, but the restaurant saves 3 parking spots for customers in front.

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Sunday, 16 August 2015

Italics Restaurant @ Akyra Manor Hotel

Italics, Innovative Italian. Pretty cool name! This hip and happening restaurant is in the lobby of Chiang Mai's newest boutique hotel, Akyra Manor.

The decor is rather fresh and modern. The ambience is sophisticated, stylish and cool (air-conditioning cool)!

As it was a lovely day out, my friend and I decided to have our early lunch on the terrace, which happens to also have more of a relaxing atmosphere. It was nice to just sit there, chill out and slowly enjoy the meal and do a bit of people watching.

Love the tree!
And the food? That's what we're here for, and Italics does not disappoint. The menu is very interesting, with a variety of innovative dishes created by the Executive Chef Phubase that you won't find elsewhere.

Highly recommended was Chef Phubase's signature dish, the Coffee Braised Short Rib ( 695 baht) . This is beef marinated in coffee, and slow cooked in duck fat for over 24 hours, resulting in super tender beef that's packed full of flavour but still had kind of soft roundedness to it (from the duck fat?). The beef was served in a little pot over some spinach, and also with gnocchi cooked in duck fat. The gnocchi was wonderful - slightly crispy and hard on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside. It was like, wow, when everything was eaten together. The only downside for us was that this dish was quite rich and we couldn't finish it all. Lucky we had some green salad that we ordered separately. I didn't think of it at the time, but I think the beef would have been perfect with a glass of red wine.

Now the Garden Greens Salad (220 baht) was no ordinary "green salad". It also contained marinated pepper and grilled vegetables, coated in a light balsamic dressing, and served with a generous amount of parmesan. It was a great salad, very enjoyable to eat. Eat slowly to enjoy the different flavours and textures.

As for the appetiser (sorry, we're going backwards!), East Meets West (250 baht) was suggested to us. This is almost like 2 dishes - a selection of "cured and smoked" sausages, and a sweet potato and edamame salad. The sausages were very strongly flavoured and quite salty, but they went well with the lovely, milder tasting sweet potato and edamame salad (in a kind of mayonnaise dressing). The salad is a bit like a Japanese style potato salad with edamame added to give a little crunch. Great idea!

The sweet potato edamame salad is served in a sardine can. Great presentation!
For dessert, we had the Banana Ricotta Cheesecake (220 baht). This wasn't what I was expecting in terms of taste and texture. The cheesecake itself was incredibly smooth and surprisingly not sweet at all. The base also had an interesting texture, (which I can't work out!), but it wasn't like other cheesecakes that I've had. All in all, it was quite lovely.

Towards the end of the meal, Chef Phubase, and the Hotel Manager, Chris came round for a chat and asked for feedback. The restaurant (and hotel) was opened just a couple of days before. Apart from a couple of minor things, I think pretty much everything was great.

The staff was very friendly, from the guy who valet parked my car (yay! parking is available!), to the restaurant manager, Cy, and the waiters/ waitresses who took turns to man the terrace, making sure our water is topped up - very attentive service indeed!

Incidentally, Chris mentioned that they will be implementing a "Resident's Program" where residents can get 15% discount. So, if you live in Chiang Mai, it would be worth asking about this when you visit the restaurant.

Italics is an interesting addition to Chiang Mai's food scene. The service and food is great. If you're looking for somewhere for a special night out, or even just looking for something a bit different, the restaurant is worth checking out.

22/2 Nimmanhaemin Soi 9
T Suthep, A Muang
Chiang Mai 50220
Opens: Daily 11am-11pm
Tel: 053 216 219

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Monday, 20 July 2015

Gusto Site

Sometimes all you want to do after a hard week's work is to relax... Well, may be not just sometimes! So after a crazy week of work, eating (of course!), a bit of drinking and live music was in order.

I live out on the Outer Ring Road (121) and although it's not that far away, going into town or Nimman feels like a bit of a hike, and I didn't fancy going through the traffic (and looking for parking!). Fortunately, there's a cool little restaurant / cafe on the New San Kamphaeng Rd, just only about 10 min from my house. The traffic, and parking, was a breeze!

Gusto Site. A newish (about 6 month old) restaurant on the New San Kamphaeng Rd.
There's plenty of parking!

The ambience is lovely. There's a big garden and seatings inside and outside the restaurant. There's live music on Friday and Saturday nights. I've been there on a couple of Saturday nights and the band played great easy listening music. A really nice place to chill out.

The atmosphere of the restaurant / cafe. 

The food here is pretty good too. Gusto Site has mainly Thai dishes,Thai style pasta dishes, as well as various great looking desserts.

The Deep Fried Pork Belly with Galangal Chilli Dip was lovely. The pork was well seasoned, and the chilli dip was very refreshing. It's like the northern green chilli dip (Nam Prik Noom) with galangal. An interesting twist. (95 baht)

Deep Fried Pork Belly with Galangal Chilli Dip, an icy glass of Heineken.. Mmm
BTW, thanks Zalora for the green bag that I took to the restaurant. 
The Deep Fried Tilapia (Tabtim fish) with Garlic. This is also quite good and nicely done.The fish pieces (not fillets as the pieces still had bones in them) are very nicely fried with light crispy skin, and pillow soft on the inside. It comes with a sweetish sauce with galangal (I think they really like galangal here!). I found I only needed a bit of sauce on the fish as the sauce is quite sweet. 185 baht.

Deep Fried Tilapia (Tubtim) Fish with Garlic. Served with a sweet galangal sauce. 
Gaeng Ratajuan with Pork Ribs. This is quite a lovely, interesting "curry". It features a lot of the usual suspects of Thai herbs (lemongrass, kaffir lime, and other herbs) as well as shrimp paste, which makes the soup/curry really smooth with earthy flavours. Westerners may not appreciate this as it is a bit of an acquired taste due to the shrimp paste. 95 baht

Gaeng Ratajuan with Pork Ribs
What I really love most at Gusto Site (that also helped to replace the calories burnt from that morning's kickboxing session), were the desserts. Oh well, that's one of the benefits of exercising, I guess.. so we can eat more!

The French Toast is really lovely. There's a thick, buttery, slightly salty toast that contrasted well with the scoop of strawberry sorbet (which was.. wow! .. it was full of strawberry flavours). There was also half a mango and various fruits served with the french toast as well. 165 baht.

Loved the French Toast!

Their signature dessert is the Little Bear Chocolate Mousse Cake. Very cute.. and tasted great too (I love chocolate!). My friend wasn't too fussed about chocolate so I ended up eating the whole thing myself (too good to waste!). The mousse was lovely, creamy and soft, not too sweet, and very chocolatey. 95 baht.

.. and the Little Bear Chocolate Mousse Cake! So cute (and decadent)!

I really enjoyed my time chilling out and eating at Gusto Site.

The restaurant seems quite popular with local families from near by moo baans (housing estates). Worth a try if you're in the area!

Gusto Site
T. Ton Pao, A. San Kamphaeng
GPS:18.744124, 99.077092
Tel: 087 657 9889

Great live music

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Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Enoteca Italian Restaurant & Buonissimo Food Affairs

A fellow foodie friend was really excited when he told me that the former executive chef of Le Meridian has teamed up with Buonissimo to open a new Italian Restaurant, Deli and wine shop at Fifth Avenue (near Meechok Plaza).

Searching for a place to eat one day, I was driving in the area and a thought, "let's drop in and see if they're open", and yes, they were. It was their 3rd day!

We were warmly welcomed by the staff. The downstairs area was quite cold (as it's also the wine shop and deli). There was a very big selection of wine, and in the deli counter, lots of cheeses, and dessert.

If you're someone like me who feels the cold (the downstairs area need to be the right temperature for the wine), you might want to head upstairs, where the temperature is a bit warmer, and where you'll also find the open kitchen, and tables with Doi Suthep view.

The menu at Enoteca is quite varied, and has interesting dishes (at least I haven't seen them before), including the Marinated Eggplant Rolls Stuffed with Cream Cheese and Sundried Tomatoes. This turned out to be a rather decadent starter. It is exactly what was described in the menu. The more earthy flavour of the eggplant was highlighted with the tartness of the sun-dried tomato, and complimented well with the creaminess of the soft cheese. Lovely. 140 baht.

The Insalata Con Feta salad ordered was lovely and fresh, simply dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. I thought the fetta was a bit hard though (I prefer the softer variety). 180 baht.

My favourite for the meal, the "handmade" lasagne, was a dream. The chef said it was done to his mother's recipe. The pasta was so soft, and the filling full of cheese and beef flavours. I think it might have been one of the best lasagne I've had (although I must say I'm no lasagne expert!). 190baht.

I must say I'm quite impressed with Enoteca. The food and ambience is lovely. I like the decor too - simple and stylish, and the staff are very friendly. Will definitely be back to try other dishes.

Enoteca (Great Fine Wine)
555/148 Fifth Avenue
T. Nongjom, A Sansai, Chiang Mai 50210
Tel: 093 272 2406

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Sunday, 3 May 2015

Corner Bistro

I've heard that Corner Bistro's fries are amazing. On the menu, it said the fries are triple fried - not something I've heard of before! Sounds pretty special though, especially when you can choose various dips to come with it, as well as adding some optional toppings like cheese, gravy or chilli. Mmm..

I went with a friend to this great little restaurant for a late lunch. We had a choice of the breakfast or the dinner menu. The menus weren't large, but we really did have trouble deciding what to eat as everything seemed really good. Finally, we opted for the breakfast menu.. which then led to a bit of a discussion about how to have the eggs!

I've heard that the Eggs Benedict here is fantastic... and I've never had Eggs Benedict in Chiang Mai.. it's just not a common thing here. But alas, it was a very hot day and I felt like something a little lighter. The Eggs Benedict will have to wait for another visit ... so I went for the Slow Cooked Omelette with salmon on the side. The menu said the order will take a while but it's worth it, so why not? It did take quite a long time... and yes, the omelette was lovely, fluffy and creamy and went perfectly with the beautifully cooked and flavoured breakfast potatoes which were boiled the sautéed with onions, capsicum and herbs. The toast was good too - very nice bread! 90 baht + a bit extra for the salmon.

My friend, incidentally, chose the Eggs Florentine with homemade hollandaise sauce, and her order came at the same time as mine... which, I must say, is quite unusual in restaurants in Thailand (unless you go to more expensive Western restaurants). The Eggs Florentine looked terrific. I had a little taste, and it was very good. 150 baht.

...And the fries? Unfortunately, Corner Bistro was out of fries, so that'll have to wait till next time too... but that might have been good thing because I wouldn't have been able to fit in dessert. Now, normally, being health conscious (hehe),  I would usually share dessert, but my friend didn't want to share her brownie so I had to get one for myself! Not something that I was very sorry about... because the homemade brownie was very good - rich and very chocholatey.. It was nicely warmed up too, and contrasted well with the cold ice cream. Yum. 100 baht.

Corner Bistro is a very nice little restaurant with a lovely setting and relaxed atmosphere. They also have an outdoor verandah area. There is also an an air-conditioned room on the 2nd floor as well. 

It's definitely a great place for breakfast or brunch. I haven't tried dinner there yet, but the menu also looks pretty good with various steak and pasta dishes. Incidentally, Kevin, the Thai-American owner, said that dinner is when Corner Bistro really shines, so it would be worth going back and check it out at that time. 

The service is good. The staff is friendly and attentive, always kept our glasses filled with ice cold water (very much appreciated on a very hot day!). 

Corner Bistro
8/8 Ratchapreuk Alley
(Close to Kad Suan Kaew)
Opens daily: 
7am-3pm & 5pm-12am
Tel: 096 497 6766

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Friday, 24 April 2015

Raw Truckr (Seafood!)

Seafood!! This is not something Chiang Mai is known for, especially being so far away from the sea! Sometimes I dream of biting into a nice juicy prawn, slurping on the fat in the head (well, that's the best bit!) but alas, good prawns are a bit hard to come by.

In comes Raw, a new seafood place (we could always use more seafood places in Chiang Mai!) . They have prawns - river prawns and tiger prawns, NZ mussels, scallops, cockles, squid, fish Andaman oysters, amongst others things. Everything is served raw on some ice, and you grill it yourself on the table.

There are various sets available depending on the number of people in your party - eg. Small (1-2 persons) - 399 baht/set. There large set is 899 baht for 5-6 persons (without oysters) and 1099 baht (High Sea Set) with oysters.

High Sea Set - fresh water prawns, squid, NZ mussel, scallop, spotted babylon,
cockles, razor clams, fresh Andaman oyster 1099 baht

I must say that everything was very fresh and very good quality. I loved the scallops and prawns especially. The river prawns were huge, and I enjoyed eating the head (with all the fat!). The meat was very firm and tasty too. Not disappointed at all! Everyones gets a small plate of the seafood seafood sauce (slightly spicy) and this complements well with everything.

Raw has tiger prawns too (199 baht each or 3 for 299 baht).

If you want extras of anything, you can also order them individually. We ordered extra oysters as everyone seem to enjoy it so much. The rather huge oysters are served with seafood sauce (the green chilli sauce) and fried onions. We poured the seafood sauce on the oysters and let it sit for a while. The oysters are so huge we had to cut it in half to eat it. Again, the oysters are very fresh. 1 for 89 baht, 3 for 249 baht.

Raw does also serve steamed rice (15 baht) and also shrimp paste fried rice (39 baht) if you'd like come carbs to fill you up.

A little warning - you might end up ordering a bit more than you thought you would as what we get isn't really all that filling. Still in our party, the cost worked out to be about 550 baht per person. 

In terms of ambience, I'd say Raw's set up is kind of a street dining with style and a bit like eating at a garden party! They have a stylish looking food truck, and tables set up in a courtyard. There's also a large tent where more tables are set up, which is very handy when it rains!

The staff is very friendly and the young owner very enthusiastic and speaks English well.

The truck

Raw Truckr
Nimman Soi 13
(in the little arcade on the left hand side about 10m from Nimanhaemin Rd).
Tel: 094 847 8118
Opens daily: 5pm-11pm

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Kelly's Bistro

If you're craving Fish & Chips, Kelly's is a good place to go. Rob, the owner has won a couple of Fish & Chips award in England, so you can't go really wrong!

Kelly's serve other various dishes as well eg. Shepherd's Pie, lasagne, panini sandwiches, hamburgers, etc. Their breakfast is also very good.

I particularly like Kelly's home made English muffins with Egg and Sausage patty (59 baht) - the eggs are cooked well, and the sausage and muffins are home made - much, much, much better than McDonald's!

The Toasted Chicken Panini is also great if you're looking for something a bit healthier. Grilled chicken with mayo, lettuce and tomato. (90 baht). You can also add cheese, bacon or pineapple as well (extra charge). There are other fillings are also available.

OK, on with the show... the specialty here is of course, Fish and Chips. We chose the deep sea cod (195 baht), which was nice and meaty and with a stronger flavour than dory. I think they do have dory as well. The fish batter was nice and crispy, and not oily and is served with tartare sauce. You can choose your sides - chips, mushy peas and / or salad (extra charge). This time I just had the chips, and they were good. On the table, there are bottles of malt vinegar, tomato sauce, and chilli sauce, so you can take a pick!

If you're on a diet, or feel like a healthier alternative, they do have grilled dory as well.

Shepherd's Pie - this is not something I have very often. The Shepherd's Pie here is made form pork and cooked in gravy. Not bad, but I found it quite salty. Served with peas and toast (to soak up the last of the gravy!). 160 baht.

A few standard Thai dishes are also available as well. I've tried a couple of these, and they were well made from good quality ingredients.

Kelly's Bristo
206/26 Meechok Plaza
T. Faham, A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50000
Tel: 098 016 1990
Opens: Tue- Sun 9am-8pm
Closed on Mondays

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